Five lessons I learnt at Blogstock

Blogstock 2015

Last weekend we went to the second Blogstock at Aldenham Country Park in Elstree, London. The event was attended by lots of bloggers writing about topics including travel, lifestyle, beauty and family, and there were talks from specialists about many different aspects of the blogging world. A few people have asked me what were the top tips I learnt during the weekend, so I thought I would share a few of them:

1. Find your niche – A lesson from Travel Fashion Girl

Alex Jimenez’s talk, Carving Your Place in the Blogosphere, was all about finding your niche in the blogging world. As we all know, there are thousands of travel blogs out there and the million dollar question is how to make yours stand out from the crowd? And if anyone is able to answer that question it’s Alex, who has 300,000 monthly readers on Travel Fashion Girl.

During Alex’s presentation she explained the importance of being able to sum up your blog in a single sentence and to think really carefully about who you are targeting it at.

She explained to us how her own blog started life as a backpackers’ guide, but eventually morphed into offering packing advice to people going on vacations, as they were the posts which became the most in demand.

This was really helpful advice for me, as I often used to worry that having a blog which focused a lot on people taking career breaks or sabbaticals would narrow down my audience too much. But Alex’s advice was to find your niche and write for it. Become the place to go for people around the world who are looking for that particular topic.

2. You don’t have to be huge to make an impact – A lesson from Explorista.NL

Dutch blogger Milou van Roon’s advice was all about how to stand out from the crowd. In her talk, Punching Above Your Weight: How to get noticed as a blogger, she spoke about the importance of making sure your branding stands out and thinking about what makes you unique.

She agreed with Alex about crafting a niche and not trying to be everything to everyone. For example, her tagline is The Broke Girl’s Guide to Life and Travel”, which has made her the go-to girl for budget travel for the Dutch media.
Her other advice was about learning how to be your own cheerleader. As well as keeping your own blog stocked with well-written, informative posts, get out there and market yourself. Nobody’s going to do it for you! Write guest posts for other blogs, create events on social media, pitch stories to the traditional media outlets and form partnerships with travel companies.

Milou also recommended networking, both with other bloggers and companies. Most of the tips she gave about networking with bloggers, such as commenting on posts, interacting with them on social media and attending blogging events, I feel like I already do quite regularly. But what I found really helpful was her suggestions to also network with companies, via social media, attending their events and going to conferences.

3. Look after your channels – A lesson from Elle Croft

During her Social Media Health Check Elle talked about the importance of keeping on top of our social media channels. Regularly updating them, using photos that will draw people and interacting with our followers.

Even though I know the importance of this, I must admit that I am sometimes guilty of letting things slip. If I’m having a busy week at work or seeing friends at the weekend, then it is often one or more of my social media channels that suffer and I really do have to get more strict with myself about committing to regularly updating them (or at the very least, scheduling posts).

Elle also advised us to not only keep on top of our social media, but to also regularly check to see how well they have engaged people. Using Twitter analytics and Facebook insights can help you to see whether a post worked well and, if there is a particular type of post which people tend to respond to more, then keep doing it!

4. Spend time thinking about your photos – A lesson from Chio Photography

I think all bloggers have different areas that they struggle with and for me it’s the photography side of things. After years of having a professional photographer by my side for my day job as a journalist, I now find the task of being responsible for taking my own photos quite daunting. So the tips from Maria Fernandez in Photography for Social Media really helped me to think about the kind of pictures I want to take. She encouraged us to try to find different angles to other people and to think about the composition of a photo.

Maria helped us to think about capturing a moment in a photo, so that it tells a story to your reader. I also liked her advice about making your followers feel like insiders, by showing them ‘behind the scenes’ type photos.
I’m definitely going to take her advice and start to follow more professional photographers who inspire me.

5. Make friends, network and have fun! – A lesson from everyone at Blogstock

It was my first year at Blogstock and I was totally amazed at the wealth of information I took away from it. Not only from the speakers during the sessions, but also from other bloggers I met over the weekend. Some of that was advice was also about blogging, but lots of it was about other travel stuff, such as where to visit and when.

There were also lots of companies at the event and it was helpful to go around and speak to them to find out more about what types of bloggers they are looking to work with and what kinds of pitches they are interested in.

The weekend was also just an opportunity to share travel stories with other wanderlusters and to add a few more destinations to the list. Because, let’s face it, most of us are not going to become millionaires from our blogs. So we may as well enjoy what we’re doing!

Blogstock 2015